Ah yes, my new favorite day of the week. ;) Hope nobody is sick of reading about defensemen just yet, because we've got one more today before we move on to some forwards. And everyone needs to pay attention right here, 'cause this guy is a Big Deal. Just ask Al Michaels! (But now I'm getting ahead of myself. Hold that thought.)
+ Bill Baker is the guy you'd hate if he wasn't so damn likable. Intelligent, modest, charismatic, reliable, talented. He looked like a "Viking god" (these are not my own words, but I fully stand by them), was a de facto team leader, and everybody wanted to be his friend. On top of all of that, he had the golden touch, and winning teams basically followed him around. In high school, he was a standout player in baseball and football in addition to hockey. He won the Minnesota state championship in 1975, the NCAA championship with the University of Minnesota in 1976 and 1979, and Olympic gold in 1980. But his friends say he's so humble that you'd never know any of this about him.
+ This will probably not come as a shock, but Bill was frequently the defensive pillar of his teams. In his senior season of 1979, he not only earned the Big Ten Medal of Honor (because why shouldn't the golden athlete also be incredibly smart?!), but he was the captain of the national championship-winning team. He also happened to be a mentor to a certain freshman defender named Mike Ramsey, and took him under his wing and showed him the ropes. :) However, Herb refused to guarantee Bill a spot on the Olympic team (like he did for Ken Morrow), and he had to fight to make the roster.
+ Bill only scored one point in the Olympic tournament, but wow, what a point it was! It was in the first game of the tournament, against Sweden, and Bill scored the tying goal with 27 seconds left in the game. There are people that think this was the most important goal of the tournament for this team, and there's a good chance they're right! The tie meant the U.S. earned a point (rather than the zero they'd get for a loss) and advancing to the medal round was now possible. That goal gave the team a huge amount of excitement and momentum going into the next game, against Czechoslovakia (which the U.S. won 7-3, despite Czechoslovakia being the second best team in the world). Basically, this goal was EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. And get this: in one post-game interview, the six subsequent games and the medal ceremony, the commentators referred to Bill's goal 16 times. In 10 of those times, they referred to him as a hero. (Yes, I counted.)
+ Bill had been drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in 1976, and signed with them right after the Olympics. He played in the NHL for three years for several teams, and hung up his skates for good in 1984.
+ After he retired from hockey, Bill went back to school. Dental school, to be specific. And after four years of that, he spent four more years in oral and maxillofacial school. And Bill Baker is now a successful oral surgeon. I guess it's fitting for a former hockey player to be fixing people's teeth! And I guess it's even more fitting that Bill never stopped being an over-achiever!
And now, friends, take a look at The Goal. This baby right here made the Miracle on Ice possible. #hero